Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Thank You, TNT

Thank you, TNT, for continually broadcasting episodes of Angel. I obviously never would have become a fan of the series if I hadn't have stumbled across it five years after it was cancelled. I'm a firm believer in never looking a gift horse in the mouth, but I can't help but wonder what thought processes TNT executives are going through to keep the series on the air. Does it have anything to do with the ratings? I can't imagine that the ratings would be that high, particularly at the 6:00 am to 8:00 am time slot. Besides, someone tried to explain to me several years ago that non-prime time ratings aren't necessarily that important with cable networks since a lot of their income is derived from deals that they make with individual cable companies and satellite networks.

I like to think that it matters to TNT that, although Angel is a niche series with a relatively small number of viewers, the viewers are extremely loyal. I would imagine that advertisers would be attracted to an audience that stays with a series rather than comes and goes. I think it's also safe to say that Angel attracts a certain type of person in its audience, which is why the series, judging from the message boards, seems to continuously attract new viewers. Advertisers may have worked out a formula a long time ago for dealing with the Angel audience, and they may be able to continue supporting the show without having to spend a lot of time figuring out what types of commercials to air.

Quite often companies have a low but steady stream of income from a particular product line. (I don't know if there's a term for it, but it's different from cash cows.) It seems like no matter how much they neglect the product line, the income still rolls in. Various attempts can be made to kill the product line, but it's usually spared because the numbers are still showing a profit. I suspect somehow Angel might be in that same category with TNT. However money is made in cable networks programming, someone must be making money somewhere off of the series. I'm just worried that it will be yanked off the air at some time (is there a contract to keep it on the air for so many years?) simply because TNT doesn't air that many series, and they might want to replace Angel with something newer.

This Whedonesque thread from 2005 talks about the move of Angel from their 5:00 pm time slot to early in the morning on TNT, and has a lot of good speculation on why cable networks juggle the air times of their shows.

What type of viewer would watch a show that airs at 6:00 am on a weekday? I would imagine most working people would be watching the news while they're getting ready to head out the door. I don't know too many people who have the luxury of starting off their days by watching two solid hours of television, or really, just one hour of television. I'm not making any judgment against people who do have the time, since it's no different from other people who watch two solid hours of television in the evening.

In my case, I was working extremely erratic hours late last March, and I had to get up after a few hours of sleep to get the rest of the household ready for work and school. I'm the type of person who, if I don't get something done right away during the day, it doesn't get done at all. During that time I would get everything done during the morning and take naps in the afternoon. Before I could get moving, however, I had to sit down with a couple of cups of coffee after the house cleared out at about 7:15 am. I found Angel during one of my morning caffeine infusions, and, the rest is history. After watching the last 45 minutes of two of the episodes of the Pylea arc, I decided I was hooked and had to see all of the episodes.

I've come across one person who discovered Angel while he was away from work recovering from a broken arm. Similarly I've found other people who discovered Angel while taking sick days from work. I also understand a lot of college students watch(ed) Angel during the morning time slot. Regardless, I understand the show is still attracting new fans. I've read interviews with both J. August Richards and Charisma Carpenter where they said fans were still approaching them about their Angel appearances as though the show was still in its first run!

I'm really kind of surprised Angel is the show that's still around while Buffy the Vampire Slayer is off the air. I have no idea when Buffy was pulled, but I was always under the impression that Angel was kind of the poor relation to Buffy. I've never seen an episode of Buffy all the way through, and I sort of wish some major cable network would put it back on the air. I have a feeling that I'm profoundly misinterpreting a lot of what I'm seeing on Angel just because I've never seen Buffy. (Although it seems like a daunting task to watch seven seasons of Buffy just so I can understand Angel better.)

In the meantime, I have nothing but nice things to say about TNT. They're keeping David Boreanaz going with Bones, and it's wonderful to see that Christian Kane is on Leverage. (I hope I take the time to see Leverage one of these days.) I've seen that J. August Richards has been on Raising the Bar several times as well. Regardless of how long Angel stays on TNT, you can't deny that it's had a very good run.

Closing Thought. I wonder what are the demographics for new viewers of Angel today versus when the series was first broadcast?

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